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Putin, Macron express concern over escalation in southeastern Ukraine

The conversation was initiated by the French side

MOSCOW, April 26. /TASS/. The conflict in southeastern Ukraine was among the key topics of a telephone conversation between Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Emmanuel Macron of France. The leaders expressed concern over escalation in Donbass, the Kremlin press service said on Monday.

"Special attention was focused on the Ukrainian conflict. The leaders expressed concern over the escalation of tension in southeastern Ukraine. Vladimir Putin drew attention to Kiev’s provocative actions, saying that Kiev is deliberately seeking to aggravate the situation along the contact line and ignoring the Minsk agreements. It was stressed that the Kiev authorities must strictly obey by the existing agreements, first of all, concerning the establishment of dialogue with Donetsk and Lugansk and incorporating Donbass’ special status in laws. Emmanuel Macron, in turn, informed Putin about his recent talks with the Ukrainian president in Paris," it said.

The presidents reiterated their commitment to further close cooperation within the Normandy format.

The situation in Donbass has been escalated since late February 2021, despite the additional ceasefire control measures agreed by the sides on July 22, 2020. Shootouts have been reported from the contact line practically every day, with casualties on both sides, including among civilians. Ukraine has blamed the Donbass republics for the escalation whereas Lugansk and Donetsk accuse Ukraine of ignoring the July 2020 agreements.

On March 30, Russian President Vladimir Putin held online talks with his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He expressed concerns over Kiev’s destabilizing actions in Donbass.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky visited Paris on April 16. After a tete-a-tete meeting, Macron and Zelensky contacted German Chancellor Angela Merkel. During the online talks, the leaders discussed the situation in Donbass. Merkel and Macron stressed the importance of the implementation of the Minsk agreements and called for further work in the Normandy format.

Nagorno-Karabakh settlement

The presidents also discussed the developments in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, highlighting that the situation in the region remains calm and expressing readiness to coordinate on various aspects of the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement, the Kremlin reported on Monday.

"The situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh region was reviewed. It was noted with satisfaction that the situation remains calm and planned work continues to implement the statements of the Russian and Azerbaijani presidents and the Armenian prime minister of November 9, 2020 and January 11, 2021. Mutual readiness to coordinate on various aspects of the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement, particularly through the OSCE Minsk Group, was expressed," the statement reads.

Putin and Macron also discussed the current state of affairs in Libya, saying that the political process that involves all key Libyan forces should be facilitated.

Moscow-Prague relations

Russian President Vladimir Putin commented on the state of Russian-Czech relations on French President Emmanuel Macron’s request, underscoring the absurdity of Prague’s actions and accusations, the Kremlin press service disclosed in the wake of the phone call between the two leaders.

"On Emmanuel Macron’s request, Vladimir Putin commented on the current state of the Russian-Czech relations, underscoring the absurd nature of accusations put forward and actions taken by Prague," the statement says.

The two leaders also discussed countering the coronavirus infection and touched upon the situation around blogger Alexey Navalny, the Kremlin said.

"The leaders agreed to continue regular dialogue on pressing issues of the international and bilateral agenda," the statement reads.

The conversation was initiated by the French side.